THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 589, September 26, 2010
"Why do creators create?"
Special to The Libertarian Enterprise
The other night I went to a friend's home for a few hours. She had a child who seemed to be fixated on watching television in the evening. So, despite being across the room, I got quite a bit of exposure to current programming.
The number of shows about police, prosecutors, and other government agents seems to be much higher than ever before. I'm not sure why people watch this garbage. The pigs are never wrong, no suspect is ever exonerated, the prosecutors always find some "worthy" reason to ignore the protections for the accused in the bill of rights, and the villain in the show is nearly always the idea of limits to government power.
Most surprising, however, were some of the commercials. I assume the advertisers are expecting a good response from these bits of film. In a past business planning venture, I learned that production budgets for a thirty-second commercial to be aired in prime time may be as high as $800,000. And, indeed, the adverts that I saw were of high production values.
But their ethical values were very questionable. Consider, for example, a promotion for DirecTV. It shows two police officers approaching a home, while one explains about how DirecTV makes it easy to gather information for something called "fantasy football." The homeowner answers the door and is immediately tasered into unconsciousness by the more arrogant, and bald, of the two pigs. Apparently the piggy is indignant because he has to spend more time gathering information for his participation in the "league." I'm not really clear about these cultural references, but the brutal treatment of the non-violent homeowner seems to be meant as comedy. I don't see the humour.
In another advert, Taco Bell is offering a low cost lunch food for one dollar. A pair of what may be office workers carrying Taco Bell foods encounter a "lunch lady" who has sandwiches for $5.50. One of them holds up the bag to explain his alternative choice in comestibles. The lunch lady then assaults him without warning by jamming her cart into his abdomen.
A third ad shows a suit, about age 55, who asserts his former "career" was as a parasite working for the Social Security administration deciding, he claims, 5,000 disability cases. He now works for a law firm, which he names. I won't do so because of the unpleasant prospects of litigation. The revolving door used to be something that bureau-rats were embarrassed about. Apparently now it is a selling point for law firms.
A commercial for something called Buffalo Wild Wings came on. Apparently this is a restaurant frequented by sports enthusiasts. Sort of a combination bread and circuses, all in one setting. So, one of the customers comments that it would be great if the game went to overtime. The bartender overhears this comment and hits a signalling device. Someone at the stadium then sits down to use the irrigation system to cheat during the game by tripping up players. I found this to be mildly amusing because a bunch of jocks were made to look foolish. But the idea that people would cheat on a game to prolong the eating experience of some customer, presumably to sell them more booze, seems like a twisted idea. I never really did take all that blather about sportsmanship seriously, because we all know that jocks are bullies.
Then I came across a commercial for Chase Sapphire. This credit card is apparently the latest offering from giant bail-out bank JP Morgan Chase. The fictitious story of a couple on safari whose son discovers a giant dinosaur bone was not the interesting part of the advert, for me. It was the closing sequence with the Monkees "I'm a Believer" playing in the background, complete with audible lyrics. Now why would a bank feel the need to use a musical cue to get customers to believe any of their lies? Could it be because all the supposed programs for troubled borrowers which were supposed to make everyone's home loans okay again are being thwarted by the big banks?
Finally, there is the Ally Bank. Ally Bank is the new name for General Motors Acceptance Corporation, GMAC, which became a bank a few years back so they could get all kinds of help from the Feral Reserveless Scheme and the feral government. Well, of course, their ads are simply precious. I saw two. In one, a child is gathering up some things that look like Easter eggs. While he's not looking, the banker sitting at the table hides some of them. In another, the banker offers an ice cream to a "new" customer but refuses to provide the same to another child on screen. Somehow we're expected to believe that the people who helped run General Motors into the ground are honest and ethical bankers, unlike others in their industry. A funny news story crossed my desk the other day. Apparently Ally and other banks are in big trouble because of collateralised debt obligation "bundling" of their mortgage backed securities. Evidently they don't actually own the loans they are trying to foreclose upon. Courts have been dismissing cases to the advantage of the homeowners because the banks can't prove they have lent any money. Whee.
For the sake of completeness, I wanted to mention any number of adverts I've seen over the years for medicines. Some of these are notorious, such as the statin drugs associated with reducing cholesterol which, by breaking the entire cholesterol cycle can cause paralysis and other neurological symptoms. Others, like Vioxx, seem to have been approved by the FDA for the purpose of getting lots of people killed.
A particularly fun one seems to show up on Youtube with hundreds of videos found on the search term "ad pills side effects." It is the oral contraceptive marketed as "Yaz" with the apparently key abilities to reduce menstrual difficulties and clear up acne. And here I thought oral contraceptives were for preventing pregnancy. This exciting product has apparently been associated with blood clots, stroke, and pulmonary embolism. Apparently some dozens of women have died while taking the product. One presumes these are younger and sexually active women who might otherwise live for many decades. Sad.
There is something peculiar and sick about a country where the government's Food and Drug Administration lets big pharmaceutical companies advertise pills without properly identifying their side effects, but apparently cannot bring itself to allow anyone to mark their food products as "free of genetically modified organisms." But that's only about as sick as a country where BP gets big government contracts for having over 700 egregious and wilful safety violations that have, in the last six years, cost at least 26 lives that we know about.
I'm also reminded of another series of adverts for cleaning products. In one, a dog comes in from the wet and shakes itself off in the family room, shot in slow motion for full effect. Everyone is in the family room except the wife and mother of this family of four, who rushes in from the kitchen with a cleaning product and is already cleaning as the dog splatter hits furniture. Every single cleaning product seems to be presented with a woman holding it, as though women don't function in society as bread winners, artists, mathematicians, scientists, authors. No, a woman is apparently some sort of device for holding cleaning products. Substitute you for my mom, at least I'll get my washing done, as The Who once sang.
Another friend reminds me of an advert for a car commercial for the car company Hyundai. Apparently they hid cameras in cars and surreptitiously spied on prospective customers who were considering buying their car. This unscrupulous behaviour violating the privacy of dozens to hundreds of individuals got them some "candid" comments about how some of these people liked the cars. The idea of respecting the privacy of customers seems to be beyond these goofs.
None of the shows I saw, nor any of the adverts to which I paid much mind, had any sense of essential ethics. Those with power were going to use it to brutalise anyone else. Anyone who didn't like it was a "loser" or a "scum bag."
Admittedly, there were quite a few very innocuous and largely not memorable commercials for local businesses, phone service, candies, and technology products. Of these the only one that stands out for me is Verizon, with their ugly slogan "Rule the Air." As if we needed or wanted more rulers.
Maybe I should stay in more and watch television instead of reading, hiking, gardening, hunting, or working on the computer. But I really don't have a taste for it.